Pick of the Week: “Other People” — My full review is here. It sounds like every other indie movie ever made. A gay comedy writer comes home to his repressed suburban family to take care of his dying mother. But “SNL” writer Chris Kelly’s debut is wonderful, focusing on the little moments between the big moments that matter. Molly Shannon is terrific as the mom. And, believe it or not, it’s also very funny.
“The Woodsman” — My full review is here. Kevin Bacon plays way against type (at least this was against type for him in 2004) as a convicted pedophile trying to redeem himself in this uneasy but well-acted drama.
“Sand Storm” — My full review is here. Tensions erupt in a Bedouin family when a father takes a second wife, and tries to force his daughter into an arranged marriage, in this searing Israeli-Palestinian film. While the restrictive patriarchal rules of this society are enraging, perhaps the real tragedy is seeing how such rules smother an otherwise loving father’s relationship with his family.
“Barry” — My full review is here. “Southside With You” looked at a twentysomething Barack Obama’s first date with Michelle, now this Netflix original looks at No. 44 as a 20-year-old college student in New York City in 1981. It’s a little on-the-nose in showing the different forces pulling at Obama, not quite fitting in either with his mostly white classmates or the nearby African-American community in Harlem, but it’s thoughtful, and Devon Terrell is convincing as Obama.
“Into the Forest” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. The world ends not with a bang but with a flicker in this superbly acted drama, in which sisters Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page have to deal with a world in which the power has gone out, everywhere, forever. Canadian filmmaker Patricia Rozema makes this new world as realistic as possible, making us wonder how we would adapt and survive.